One of our local Servas hosts here in Blantyre is Ian, a commercial contractor,
who finished his studies 2 years ago and as an entrepreneur opened his own office. Ian is involved with a very interesting project at the moment and he decided to take us with him for a visit. The client is a Chinese Buddhist – who came to Africa – after a visit of Buddha in a dream – telling him he needed to help that part of the world. Then in 2002 he selected a spot near Blantyre to build a care center for local orphans. His vision is to bring a balance education of the body and the mind through the Buddhist teachings. The campus includes 2 temples, classrooms and dormitories to receive up to 400 students in the future. At the current moment constructions is still in progress while 270 orphans are living on the premises. Teaching emphasizes languages such as maintaining Chichewa, the local language in addition to teaching Chinese, English and general education. Martial arts are taught to strengthen the immune system in prevention to illness and as a discipline.
Johnny, our guide who is in charge of the place while the Master is away, tells us that kids are taught the Buddhist philosophy and the Chinese language to give them more opportunities on the job market in the future. He also acknowledged the importance for the students to retain their own culture and roots by visiting their villages and when possible being reunited with their families.
I left the place thinking that some people really love big challenges because I can’t think of more opposite cultures as the African and the Chinese…but again it makes sense for a Buddhist to tackle that challenge with a smile and high hopes for the future.